EU at UNGA 76: working together to address global challenges

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


A High-level European Union Delegation will attend the 76th United Nations General Assembly next week in New York. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year EU representatives will host and participate in events and meetings in a hybrid format – in person and virtual – with other world leaders.

To respond to global crises, threats and challenges, the international community needs an efficient multilateral system, founded on universal rules and values. The UN remains at the core of this system. With its extensive political, diplomatic and financial support, the EU works every day with partner countries, regional organisations and the UN to find common solutions to challenges that no country can face alone, including health, climate change, biodiversity loss, sustainable development and the erosion of human rights.

On Monday, 20 September, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, together with President of the European Council Charles Michel, will participate in the High-level Roundtable on Climate, outlining the EU’s commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least -55% by 2030, and calling for more global action. In the afternoon, President von der Leyen and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, together with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, will meet the UN Secretary General António Guterres.

On Tuesday, 21 September, President von der Leyen and High Representative/Vice-President Borrell will attend, together with President Michel, the opening session of the General Debate of the 76th UN General Assembly.

The same day, Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, will deliver a video message during the High-level Meeting on the 20th Anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The Vice-President will highlight the EU´s work to fight racism, stemming from the European anti-racism action plan, which aims to address individual and structural racism in Europe and beyond.

On Thursday, 23 September, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, will participate in the virtual UN Food Systems Summit, setting the stage for global food systems transformation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

On Friday, 24 September, High Representative/Vice-President Borrell will accompany President Michel, who will deliver the statement on behalf of the EU during the General Debate of the 76th UN General Assembly.

President von der Leyen and High Representative/Vice-President Borrell will also have a number of high-level bilateral meetings in New York throughout the week.

EU Flagship events during the week

The EU will host or co-host a number of flagship events in the margins of the General Assembly:

  • On Tuesday, 21 September, Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, will deliver an introductory speech during the virtual Kapuscinski Development Lecture, co-organised by the EU, the United Nations Development Programmes and leading universities.
  • On Wednesday, 22 September, Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, will co-host, together with Sweden and Switzerland, the virtual High-level Event “Yemen: Responding to the crises within the world’s largest humanitarian crisis”. It will be an opportunity to mobilise urgently needed funding and announce new pledges for the humanitarian response. He will then co-host, together with France and Germany, the virtual High-level Event “International Humanitarian Law: Enhancing Monitoring, Improving Compliance”, highlighting the unprecedented challenges faced by humanitarian workers: saving lives should never cost lives.
  • On the same day, Vice-President for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Šuica, will speak at the virtual High-level Side Event on Violence against Children in times of crisis. Co-hosted by the EU together with Bulgaria, Jamaica, Luxembourg and the UN, the event will highlight the need to strengthen inclusive child protection systems during crisis and end violence against children.
  • On Thursday, 23 September, High Representative/Vice-President Borrell will chair the first meeting of the Regional Platform on Afghanistan, with the participation of Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson. The meeting is part of the EU and its Member States’ efforts to engage with Afghanistan’s neighbours and regional partners. Commissioner Lenarčič will co-host, together with Belgium, the virtual High-level Event “Protection of children, invisible victims of armed conflict and COVID-19”.

Other High-level events of the week

EU representatives will have a full agenda of high-level debates and side events, as well as numerous bilateral meetings:

  • On Monday, 20 September, Commissioner Urpilainen will deliver opening remarks at the African Union-UNICEF High-level Side Event “Re-imagining Education in Africa”, renewing the European Commission’s commitment to transform education and promote innovative learning solutions in Africa. Later in the evening, High Representative Borrell will chair the traditional informal meeting of EU Foreign Affairs Ministers.
  • On Tuesday, 21 September, Executive Vice-President Timmermans will participate in a virtual discussion on Green Jobs in the clean energy transition, organised during the Climate Week in New York.*
  • On the same day, High Representative/Vice-President Borrell will participate in a Ministerial meeting on the Libya Peace process, organised by Germany, to discuss the ongoing efforts to contribute to the implementation of the ceasefire and in view of the upcoming elections in the country. High Representative/Vice-President Borrell will then convene leaders from the Western Balkans for a working dinner.
  • On Thursday, 23 September, High Representative/Vice-President Borrell will deliver a statement at the virtual Ministerial Conference on Article XIV of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
  • Between 22 and 24 September, Executive Vice-President Timmermans and Commissioner Kadri Simson will represent the EU at the virtual High-level Dialogue on Energy. The meeting presents a historic opportunity to build a global roadmap to ensure access to clean and affordable energy services for all by 2030, while accelerating a just and inclusive energy transition towards net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • On Tuesday, 27 September, Commissioner Urpilainen will represent the EU at the virtual meeting of Heads of State and Government on Jobs and Social Protection for Poverty Eradication. The discussions will frame the ambitions needed for a socio-economic recovery to advance decent job creation, social protection and poverty eradication.
    • The agenda of the individual EU representatives can be found on their websites.

For More Information

  • For the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, the EU will focus on key priorities such as building back better after the COVID-19 pandemic, making the world safer and promoting peace and security and human rights, winning the race against climate change and restoring the relationship with nature, and shaping the global digital agenda. For more details, check the EU’s priorities here.
  • Collectively, the EU and its Member States are the single largest financial contributor to the UN system, providing almost a quarter of the UN’s regular budget.
  • Press and audio-visual material will be available on EEASEuropa and Consilium.

Join the conversation online on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using #UNGA, #EU and follow @EUatUN and the College members’ accounts for live updates throughout the week.

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